Why Companies No Longer Have In-House Legal Divisions

If you take a look at the typical corporate structure in this day and age, you’ll notice that many companies no longer have in-house legal divisions and this is for a number of reasons.

Most legal professionals prefer to operate more independently

For many of us in this world it’s just too much of an ask to sit down, year after year and study all the theory that comes together to make up a legal degree. Not to mention the various compliance requirements you’ll have to meet once you’ve completed your formal schooling in order to finally qualify as a lawyer. One could say lawyers give up a lot of their freedom during their schooling years to acquire their qualifications, which is why they in a sense seek to seize back some of that freedom by running their own legal firms or working for independently-run firms. It’s a matter of freedom, which is why the typical working day of an attorney is perhaps shorter than your regular working day as blue collar or white collar worker.

It weighs too heavily on the payroll

Back when it was still the heyday of the typical corporate structure, things were so good that the abundant business environment had these corporations expanding to the hearts’ desire of the main stakeholders. With industrialisation only set to pick up speed at the time, so too major financialisation of pretty much all the markets and industries, corporations could afford the large-scale expansion due to the impending growth.

This meant that the typical corporation could quite easily afford to maintain a very large workforce, with the size indicative of only more good times to come in the future. That’s why amongst many other divisions, companies could afford to maintain in-house legal divisions, part of which would be driven by legal professionals who operate as specialists in their field and often spending their entire working lives with the one corporation they started out with.

Remember that having in-house divisions in any organisation doesn’t begin and end with paying the salaries of the staff, but rather incorporates elements such as training, which can include the granting of scholarships and bursaries and that in itself requires the running of an entire division.

True specialisation requires independent operation

Aside from housing an in-house legal division weighing heavily on the payroll of a company, times have changes quite considerably and legal professionals have evolved to specialisation level beyond just servicing one company in one industry. Now you get legal professionals who specialise in specific arms of the legal practice, such as how the Alliance Law Group has (as the name suggests) a group of attorneys who know specific practice areas in and out, i.e. family law, personal injury and probate / guardianship / wills & trusts.

If you contrast this level of broader specialisation with the internal specialisation that would be synonymous with a legal team forming part of a specific corporation, the latter would be limited by way of their in-field exposure while the former gets much more practical experience dealing with so many more cases.